The Year of Saint Joseph comes to an end on December 8. Over the past twelve months, we have examined many aspects of Joseph’s life, both historical and legendary. We have looked at the culture in which he lived, archaeological findings, and theological considerations. We have spent time in his presence and asked his intercession.
Now we end the year as we began—with words from Pope Francis. At his weekly audience on November 17, Pope Francis began a series of teachings on Saint Joseph, saying:
“Today, like never before, during this time marked by a global crisis made up of several factors, he can offer us support, consolation and guidance. This is why I have decided to dedicate a series of catecheses to him, which I hope may further help us to let ourselves be enlightened by his example and by his witness.
“Jesus was not born in Jerusalem, with all the court . . . no, he was born in a periphery and he spent his life in that periphery until the age of thirty, working as a carpenter like Joseph. For Jesus, the peripheries and marginality were favored. To fail to take this fact seriously is the same as not taking seriously the Gospel and the work of God, who continues to manifest himself in the geographical and existential peripheries. The Lord always acts in secret in the peripheries, even in our souls, in the peripheries of the soul, of feelings, perhaps feelings of which we are ashamed; but the Lord is there to help us move forward. The Lord continues to manifest himself in the peripheries, both the geographical ones and the existential ones. In particular, Jesus goes in search of sinners; he goes into their homes, speaks with them, calls them to conversion. And he is also rebuked for this: ‘But look at this Teacher,’ say the doctors of the law, ‘Look at this Teacher: he eats with sinners, he gets dirty.’ He also goes in search of those who have done no evil but have suffered it: the sick, the hungry, the poor, the least. Jesus always goes towards the peripheries. And this should bring us great trust because the Lord knows the peripheries of our heart, the peripheries of our soul, the peripheries of our society, of our city, of our family, that is, that slightly obscure part that we do not show, perhaps out of shame.
“In this respect, the society of that time is not very different from ours. Today, too, there is a center and a periphery. And the Church knows that she is called to proclaim the good news starting from the peripheries. Joseph, who is a carpenter from Nazareth and who trusts in God’s plan for his young fiancée and for himself, reminds the Church to fix her gaze on what the world deliberately ignores. Today Joseph teaches us this: ‘Do not look so much at the things that the world praises, look into the corners, look in the shadows, look at the peripheries, at what the world does not want.’ He reminds each of us to give importance to what others discard. In this sense he is truly a master of the essential: he reminds us that what truly matters does not attract our attention but requires patient discernment to be discovered and appreciated. To discover what matters. Let us ask him to intercede so that the whole Church may recover this insight, this ability to discern, this ability to evaluate what is essential. Let us start again from Bethlehem, let us start again from Nazareth.”
you who have always trusted God,
and have made your choices
guided by his providence
teach us not to count so much on our own plans
but on his plan of love.
You who come from the peripheries
help us to convert our gaze
and to prefer what the world discards and marginalizes.
Comfort those who feel alone
and support those who work silently
to defend life and human dignity.
Image credit: Jl FilpoC (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Wikimedia Commons